JESUS IS THE TRUE PICTURE OF GOD

I don’t think the basic predisposition of God is judgment. I think the basic stance of God is love (cf. Ezek. 33:11). Some people view God as the ‘Hanging Judge of the universe’ that has a big gavel ready to smash you like a bug if you step out of line. He’s just waiting to twitch your legs, and really enjoys sending people to hell. Some folks really think about God like that. I think about God as a loving, accepting, extroverted Father who wants to hug me, love me, kiss me, give to me, forgive me, sustain me, lift me up, encourage me, take me in His arms, and wipe the tears from my eyes. And the only thing that’s preventing Him from doing that is my stinking rebellion. That is my view of God, and this is the Old Testament description of God as Someone who doesn’t want any one to die, Someone who doesn’t want any to perish, any one to be lost. God wants all to know Him and to love Him (cf. 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4).

The consistent picture of God in the Bible is that of a loving Father, but don’t be lulled to sleep by that. That’s not all the picture. My Bible says, “For God so love the world He gave His only begotten Son…”, and so i believe that God is a God of love. When i hear Jesus say in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest take my yoke upon you lean on me. I am meek and lowly at heart and I’ll give you rest”, that is the picture of God pleading for man to come to Him. God says, “Won’t you all come, come on home, won’t you come?”, that’s the picture of God that i have in my mind. But that’s not the only picture. He asked man to turn from his evil way and live. There is a responsibility that we have to respond to the love of God. Repentance is something we don’t preach much today. I think if there’s a missing element in the modern proclamation of the Gospel, it is the element of repentance. Jesus mentioned it in Luke 13:3 and 5 where He said very poignantly, “Unless you repent ye shall all likewise perish”. What does that mean? It means that we have in our capacity the ability (not much, but at least some ability) to turn from a self-directed sunful life with a pull of the Holy Spirit, and to turn toward a God-directed life. And God requires that we do that. Salvation not only is a positive faith. It is also a negative sense of turning from and a turning to. It is impossible to say “I love Jesus” and not turn from that self-directed life.